There was drama galore in a recent League 1 clash in Paris, France.
Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) hosted one of their fiercest rivals, Olympique de Marseille, at Le Parc des Princes last Sunday.
Marseille came out as the 1-0 winners from a first-half goal, but the story of the day came in the dying seconds of the game.
Before continuing, I would like to pay tribute to referee Jérôme Brisard for having the courage of his convictions in issuing five red cards during the game. Three were straight reds and the other two were second yellows, one for each team.
Along with the five red cards, Brisard also issued five single yellows to PSG and seven to Marseille. It was quite a feisty affair, to say the least.
Included in those getting a red was the most expensive player in the world, Neymar Jr of PSG.
The Brazilian slapped Marseille defender Álvaro González after González allegedly made a racist remark. That may be found to be the case, but Neymar cannot – no player can – take the law into his own hands.
There are proper channels for making a complaint, and acting unilaterally is not the way to do it.
I abhor racism in any shape or form, and support whoever is the victim of such abuse.
The other extraordinary part of this drama is that it all happened in injury time at the very end of the game.
Picture the scene: We are in the 96th minute of the game; the Marseille keeper is taking his time with the goal kick.
Neymar is seen arguing with his opposite number, González. As the ball is in the air, Marseille forward Darío Benedetto nudges Leandro Paredes of PSG in the back and ignites what essentially becomes a free-for-all brawl.
Paredes punches Benedetto to the ground before appearing to headbutt González.
Benedetto and Parades are shown second yellow cards, while Layvin Kurzawa and Jordan Amavi receive straight reds.
Finally, things seem to settle down. The referee is seen making his way to the pitch-side monitor for a video assistant referee inspection. He is not there for long, then he runs back and produces a straight red for Neymar.
The reason? Neymar was seen punching González, and so he had to go.
I don’t want this column to seem like a match report by a sports journalist. My reason for writing this and delving deeper into the events is to show that the referee was 100% correct in everything he did, and I hope that all match officials will learn from his actions.
Likewise, no one is above the law, regardless of who he is, what his reputation is or which team he plays for.
One publication described the incident as “carnage” and, to some extent, I guess it was. A lesser referee might have refrained from dishing out so many red cards, but not Monsieur Brisard.
I commend him for his bravery in the face of extreme pressure.
I read that Marseille criticised him and said words to the effect that he wasn’t experienced enough for such a high-profile game. Well, they would say that, wouldn’t they?
I just saw the highlights of the game and I thought he was a breath of fresh air. I know other referees in other countries would have backed off and would not have taking such strong, positive action, but not Brisard. I congratulate him.
- Happy whistling!
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